Two things. First, I’m at Raoul’s, at dinner, where we’ve just finished 2 bottles of Pinot Noir, and my date is in the bathroom. It’s the first chance I’ve had to look around, ’cause you can’t look around during a date or it’s construed as disinterest–otherwise A.D.D. comes up–and now, as I’m looking around, I see, behind where his head would be if he weren’t in the bathroom, a painting of a bare-chested woman clutching a strand of pearls. I’m fixated on her nipples, which look perfect, as if the artist used a compass to create concentric circles.
My parents had drinking glasses when I was younger with Gauguin’s Tahitian Beauties on them. They were actually embarrasing as I got older, but when I was in 5th grade, I’d invite my friends over to look at them. "Shhhh." I’d say, as I looked over my shoulder, climbing above the stove to open the hard-to-reach cubbards. Then I’d hand one of the glasses to a friend. And we’d just stare at them.
Like the paintings on the drinking glasses, the painting on the wall of Raoul’s, depicts a tan woman, wearing hoops in her ears, looking beyond the artist, as if she’s stuck in a thought. And at that moment, in this fall month, looking at an orange painting, I’m wishing I could wear hoop earrings without worrying that I look Puerto Rican, and I’m wishing, most of all, that I could tan, and be on vacation someplace warm, with a scarf in my hair and hoops pulled through my ears. When I was younger, my mother wouldn’t let me wear hoop earrings, and it had nothing to do with fear of a loeb tear. "You look Puerto Rican," she would whisper as if she were talking about bare-chested Tahitian ladies.
And to add insult to injury, below the orange painting of the Tahitian Beauty is a black and white photograph of two lip-locked women, embraced in a tongue kiss, heads tilted in gesture, as they pose for a camera. I’m not envious because anything one has to pose for isn’t real… that’s why I like to stay behind the lens. But now I have to stop writing because now I’m posed, writing on index cards, before my date, who is now back from the bathroom, with a crinkled brow, and a smile.
Second, he brought me cookies.. a lot them… ’cause he read somewhere I was craving them.